THE WILBERFORCE WAY: The ingenious way an attorney brought down a fetal tissue network.
Updated: May 15, 2021
In October 2015, a plaintiff’s attorney, Mike Seibel, obtained a contract between UNM and late-term abortion provider Curtis Boyd from a local New Mexico pro-life advocate who came to him with questions about the document. Although Mr. Seibel claimed to know nothing about abortion, he told Elisa Martinez, who approached him with the contract in a church parking lot, that he’d look into it.
After looking at the contract, Seibel immediately knew the problem. The fellowship agreement for training at the facility was missing a crucial piece: The Regents of New Mexico’s approval of the contract.
Seibel continued to research the laws surrounding the contract. His conclusions were ultimately used by the select panel on infant lives that investigated fetal parts trafficking after the 2015 fetal tissue procurement exposure boom. He began to aggressively study and learn the law on abortion, fetal tissue transfers, and medical research. He then sent dozens of inspection of public records requests to the University of New Mexico.
Then on November 25, 2015, the day before Thanksgiving, he received the response to IPRA request 7806, the infamous letter of Curtis Boyd, which proved in writing that Southwestern Women's Options was providing baby body parts to the University of New Mexico for research.
"I was stunned," said Seibel, "Thanksgiving turned into a long discussion with my father, a former President of the New Mexico Medical Society, about the propriety and the morality of what they were doing. He pointed me in the right direction."
Seibel and Martinez then got in touch with Coleen Heild, an investigative reporter with the Albuquerque Journal. After preparing for two weeks, Mr. Seibel attended the 2-hour meeting with Ms. Heild and Ms. Martinez on December 10th, 2015. Together they discussed the dozens of documents and notebooks before them. They explained their theories and showed the underlying documents. Ms. Heild said she would further investigate the story.
Ms. Heild then confronted the University of New Mexico and wrote the story. On December 20, 2015, Mr. Seibel woke up to the story on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal.
The Journal explained that the University of New Mexico had written a sudden and terse letter to Curtis Boyd terminating the late-term training program on December 14, 2015. It also identified a network of 19 different universities that were being supplied body parts by the University of New Mexico and Curtis Boyd.
"The pro-life community was elated at the time the article came out," said Seibel. "They had suffered loss after loss for decades, and the termination of this training program gave them hope."
In a matter of days, Martinez received word from the Select Panel on Infant Lives. The investigation of the Nation’s largest university-based fetal tissue network had begun. Over the next year, Seibel and Martinez worked with the select panel on infant lives. The effort lead to two criminal referrals against the University of New Mexico and late-term abortionist Curtis Boyd, the fetal tissue logs, and the eventual halting of Curtis Boyd’s fetal tissue transfer program.
“We could have tried to pass laws outlawing fetal tissue at that point, but it would have gone nowhere,” Seibel said. “But I always try to look outside the box and find another way. I’m just happy the nightmare that haunted New Mexico for 20 years is halted for now”. Mr. Seibel is now lead attorney for Abortion On Trial, and he is representing numerous plaintiffs with open abortion malpractice cases at this time.
To support Mr. Seibel's legal fight against abortion, donate here.